The General Services Administration announced it will sell the West Heating Plant – a federal building in Washington, D.C. which has sat essentially unused since 2000 – for $19.5 million.
The decision was applauded by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), who spent his first term in Congress fighting for the sale of empty and underutilized government buildings.
“This is a huge win for taxpayers to end the wasteful mismanagement and underutilization of valuable federal assets,” said Denham. “This is another step in the right direction to decreasing the federal footprint and reducing our debt while creating jobs.”
The West Heating Plant was built in 1948, burning coal to generate steam to heat government buildings in Washington, D.C. Since 2000, when the plant was decommissioned, the building has served mainly as a storage site for chemicals while racking up $3.5 million in maintenance costs.
In June 2012 Denham, then chairman of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, held a hearing at the waterfront site, pointing to the building as an emblem of the government's 14,000 vacant or underutilized properties.
Denham no longer sits on the public buildings subcommittee, but continues to support the passage of a Civilian Property Realignment Act, which he authored. The legislation would establish an independent commission to review federal properties and make recommendations for consolidations, co-locations, redevelopment, or sales.
“In order to make this process more cost-effective and transparent, we need to pass the Civilian Property Realignment Act to increase efficiency in our government,” Denham said. “There are thousands of properties like this that could be sold immediately.”
The West Heating Plant was sold via auction. Five anonymous bidders drove the building's price up from an opening bid of $500,000 in January.